Insurgents dressed in U.S. military uniforms and driving a captured Humvee tried to bluff their way into the Afghan Interior Ministry on Wednesday. Once challenged, however, they detonated a suicide vest and were all killed during a shootout with Afghan security forces.
It’s not clear who carried out the attack — one of at least three that occurred in Afghanistan on Wednesday — that targeted the Interior Ministry’s compound a few hundred yards from Kabul’s airport and a coalition air base where Americans and their allies train Afghan forces.
Just after midday, a car bomb exploded at the entrance to the ministry compound, said Hashmat Stanekzai, spokesman for Kabul police.
“After that, several gunmen tried to get into the ministry, but they faced resistance by our security forces,” he said. “The attackers were not able to enter the ministry.”
The firefight ended a little more than two hour later, he said, and all the gunmen had been killed. He could not say how many other casualties there were besides the assailants.
At least one of the attackers was captured, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in the country, told reporters at the Pentagon via video conference later in the day.
But Nicholson disputed claims by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate that it was responsible for the attack. Both the Taliban and ISIS have carried out attacks that have left hundreds dead in recent months. The Taliban, however, had not claimed responsibility for the attack.
The tactics smacked more of the Taliban’s Haqqani network, Nicholson said, referring to a brutal branch of the insurgent group considered its most capable. For example, their use of American uniforms and their targeting of a government facility.
The use of the older American uniforms didn’t deter the Afghan security guards who demanded that the men exit the vehicles. That’s when one of the attackers detonated a suicide vest.
The Afghan Crisis Response Unit 22 arrived quickly on the scene and killed the remaining attackers. One police officer was killed and five wounded. One of the insurgents was captured.
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Photo courtesy AP